Gentle Restoration

gentle

One the way to church one morning, I was whining about something to my husband. As he patiently listened to my heart, Jules was listening too. When I paused, she said, “You often talk to me about the dangers of comparing my life to someone else’s. Do you think you are doing that right now?”

We have learned over years, that the Bible is so applicable to all of our relationships. Those pesky verses that convict us on how we relate to people, apply to our interactions with our children too.

Galatians 6:1 “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently.”

My 13 year old daughter has been experiencing gentle restoration when she sins. In turn, she was able to gently restore me when I was caught in sin. I was silenced (almost…I admit, I still had to get a few more words in). There was no way I could have responded in defensiveness to her rebuke.

Eventually we arrived at church. As we began to worship God in all His holiness, the Holy Spirit used her words to bring conviction to my heart. I wept, as I confessed my sin of ungratefulness and my pride-filled-spirit during the car ride. I wept, as I received the freely offered forgiveness of my Savior.

Friends, we can be simultaneously gentle and consistent in our parenting. These are not mutually exclusive. And the behavior we model, is the behavior they will display. Praying for you as you love your families today!

 

 

 

Presenting Our Kids Mature in Christ, Part III: Service

Presenting Our Kids Mature in Christ, Part III: Service

When we think of presenting our kids mature in Christ, we are striving to cover three areas: Knowing and obeying God; loving and worshipping God, and living a life of service unto God. In this third and final post in our series, we want to look at a few ways we can encourage spiritual maturity in our kids as they become Ambassadors for Christ.

Romans 12:10 “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” 

Service in the home: The best place to begin serving is in our homes. Swannie dad is servant hearted in every way and simply modeling that to our kids has affected them deeply. We want to encourage our kids to look out for the needs of others. As we honor our children above ourselves, they are catching the vision. We’ve noticed them making each others beds, picking up each others messes, volunteering for chores that need to get done. In fact, just today, Catty walked by and said, “Oh no! I forgot to do my consequence of bringing Ode’s dishes to the sink.”

Stretching in my memory, I couldn’t remember giving her any discipline, “Who gave you that consequence, Catty?”

She looked at me and replied, “I gave it to myself. Earlier I hurt Odes with my hands and I thought I should find a way to bless him with my hands.”

Our home is a place to welcome friends, family, and neighbors. Therefore, we make every effort to open our door in hospitality to those around us. The home gives us endless ways to mature in Christ through service.

mature in Christ: service

I Peter 4:10 “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” 

Service in church: The beautiful picture of the body of Christ working in harmony is breathtaking. We have all been given talents and spiritual gifts in Christ. As a family we look for ways to serve the church together and on our own. David has taught Sunday School. I’ve led worship. The kids and I have led worship together. Our kids have sung, danced, and played musical instruments. We have joined with our church outreach, Big Serve together. As our kids continue to grow, their gifts will continue to unfold and God will mark out the ways He wants to use them in vocation, ministry, and families of their own. Growing in this area and seeing how God will use us in the life of the church is exciting. 

Romans 12:14 “Share with the Lord’s people who are in need.”

Serving the people in our lives: Through the years, we have tried to keep our eyes open to serve the people around us in need. If we are looking, there is a multitude of ways to bless those around us. Families can serve together in any number of ways.

Are you good at cooking or baking? Bring someone a treat or meal.
Do you have a new or lonely neighbor? Shovel their driveway.
Do you know a family who is suffering, with little help? Watch their kids, clean their house, pay a bill or two if you can.
Send a card of encouragement.
Do you know families who foster? Find a way to bless them. (Diapers, formula, gift cards, new clothing, food, and prayers would bless the families we know who are fostering children.)
Dress up the kids and visit a nursing home.
Do you interact with the homeless? Give them something in the name of Jesus.
Bring a small gift to an old friend.
Drop off chocolates and a fun book or magazine at the home of a mom with young ones.
Give away your kids old toys and clothes to younger kids in the neighborhood.

The other day a little girl was sitting in our back yard watching the neighborhood kids play down the street. David said she looked lonely. My heart soared when Jules ran outside and asked if she wanted to play. One by one our kids descended upon her and the six of them played the rest of the evening. *Since writing this, I heard one of my kids share a praise report that they were able to proclaim Jesus to this little girl. Yes, they are getting the vision!

Romans 12:1 “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, this is your true and proper worship.

Service on vacation: Exposing our children to different parts of our country has been a privilege. When traveling, we look for different ways to serve. In Texas, we partnered with a church for a day. David was able to share God’s love with Latino families, while the middle kids and I packed food for them to bring home. Jules blessed children by doing crafts with them, as their parents picked up boxes of food and heard the message of God’s love.

mature in christ: servicemature in Christ: service

mature in Christ: service

In Arizona, we took on the challenge of the church we visited by organizing our own creative outreach. We stayed on a golf course and made fresh lemonade for the golfers as they passed. Additionally, the church offered materials for us to hand out in Jesus’ name. Looking for ways to serve on vacation, has played an important part in maturing ours and our children’s faith.

2 Corinthians 5:20-21 “We are therefore Christ’s Ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 

Vessels of Reconciliation: Ultimately, we hope for our children to become those who reconcile others to God. Our church is giving our kids a fantastic view of world missions. Before each of the kids leaves our home, I hope to complete the Apologia World View books. We look for real life examples to continue to share the truth of the gospel with our kids and through conversation are teaching them different ways to communicate the gospel to others.

Mark 10:45 “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

When we think of communicating a life of service and obedience to Christ, we always want to emphasize that we serve out of response to His work in our lives. It’s so important to guard against the subtle lies that make our children believe that the more they do, the more they matter to God. There is NOTHING we can do to earn the favor of God. Service to Him and others is because He loved us first.

We have been blessed to be a blessing. If our kids are going to grow to maturity in Christ, we need to model a heart of service. Proclaiming Christ in both words and service is an area I pray we will grow increasingly as a family. How are you building hearts for others in your homes?

Presenting Our Kids Mature in Christ, Part I: Scripture
Presenting Our Kids Mature in Christ, Part II: Prayer

 

Presenting Our Kids Mature in Christ, Part II: Prayer

Presenting Our Kids Mature in Christ, Part II: Prayer

Today, we are building on the idea from Colossians of presenting our kids mature in Christ. The first post in this series looked at diligently teaching scripture in the home. The focus of Part II will be prayer. Building an intimate prayer life with our kids has knit our hearts together in a beautiful way. We are beginning to see fruit of this discipline in the lives of our older kids as they are growing their own prayer lives, walking by faith.

mature in Christ: prayer

The following are some ways we have incorporated prayer into the life of our home:

Ephesians 6:18 “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep praying for the Lord’s people.” 

Common Prayers: We pray before meals, road trips, and bed times. When we hear a siren or see some kind of hardship on the road, we pray. After interacting with a person in need, we pray for them. If we get a message from family or friends in need, we pray right away. 

I John 5:14 “This is the confidence we have in approaching God, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.”

Prayer Day: Swannie dad instituted “prayer day.” At bed time on that person’s prayer day, they get an extended time of prayer. Prayer requests are shared and each one is lifted up to God. This is a great time for those prayers we always mean to pray for our kids (salvation, future endeavors, spouses). 

Jeremiah 29:12 “Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.”

Prayer Groups: This year we invited three other homeschool families to join us in prayer twice a month. We follow the “Moms In Prayer” format. Moms and pre-schoolers meet in our play room. The little ones play and moms worship and express our thankfulness to God and confess our sins. We pray for our children, each other, our husbands, our homeschools, and other prayer requests. The girls from each family meet together and my oldest daughter leads them in a time of prayer. My oldest son leads the boy’s prayer time. Afterward we have a fun hour of learning together. 

James 5:16 “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. 

Confession Prayers: Recently, some of our kids engaged in an altercation of gigantic proportions. Angry words and hurt filled tears were whipped up in a frenzy. When David and I stepped in to help, I contributed to the discussion by angrily trying to put a kid in his place. After several minutes of heated discussion, I asked everyone if we could pray. I led a time of confession of my sin and asked for healing for our hearts and relationships. Hearts began to soften as we prayed for ourselves and each other. I would like to see this type of prayer increase in our home. 

James 5:13 “Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise.”

Prayer in Joy and Sorrow: Upon receiving the news from my doctor that we had lost our last baby, as a family, we immediately offered our sorrow up to God. By faith, we trusted that He understood our pain. By faith, we sent up prayers of trust that He knows best. As we face troubles and sorrows in our family, we are real about our strugggles, while continually walking the path of faith filled prayers. Our kids are now asking for God’s direction in their own lives and accepting His answers. When we receive good news or a blessing, we remember to praise Him for His goodness to us. I’ve noticed my children thank God for even the tiniest things that bring them joy.

I Timothy 2:1-2 “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving, be made for all people, for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 

Prayer for others: Years ago, we had a “prayer bowl.” We placed scraps of paper in the bowl which held prayer requests for others. At breakfast and lunch we would each take out a slip and pray for whatever was on it. The bowl is now since broken. Since then, I’ve made laminated cards and written prayer requests with wet erase markers and put them on our morning board. Letters and pictures from missionaries are posted on a board to remember to pray for them. Christmas letters are opened together during dinner and are prayed for before we hang them up on the wall as a prayer reminder throughout the season. We try to remember to pray often for our country and world leaders, missionaries, pastors, neighbors, family, friends, those fighting illnesses.

I Timothy 2:3-4 “This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 

Prayer for the Lost: I believe this is one of the most important kinds of prayers in which we can engage. The following verse is helpful as we lift up prayer for those who do not yet know Jesus: “We pray Jesus that you would open ______ eyes and turn them from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.”

Matthew 5:44 “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”

Prayer for our Enemies: Every single one of us at swanniehouse has endured the pain of broken relationships or deep hurt from outside of our home. We are choosing by faith, to love those who hurt us and pray for them. This is a very difficult kind of prayer, but it is also dramatically life-changing. 

Let us know if you decide to incorporate one or more of these ideas in your home ministry. We would love to hear what you are doing as a family to teach and model prayer in your home!

Presenting Our Kids Mature in Christ, Part I: Scripture

Presenting Our Kids Mature In Christ, Part I: Scripture

There is nothing more important to us at swanniehouse, than presenting our kids mature in Christ. We live in a country as well as a time in history, where opportunities are abundant. How do we make the best decisions with how to spend our days and years with the little ones entrusted to us by God? The best guide we have found is listening to what God says in His word and trying our best to follow His lead. We are dividing our posts on presenting our kids mature in Christ into a series. This enormous task has many facets to cover. The first we are going to tackle is keeping the teaching of scripture prominent in our homes.

Deuteronomy 6:5-9 tells us that parents are responsible for the spiritual teaching of our children. We are commissioned to take every opportunity, all through out the day, to impress the truths of scripture on our children. The following are some ways we are striving to diligently teach God’s commands to our kids.

Devotions: Nearly every day, after dinner, we read God’s word and discuss it. The most self-disciplined swannie in our home has kept us up to the task (thank you Swannie Dad, we appreciate you!). We have used several different devotional books or websites and have read directly from scripture. Ten to fifteen minutes a day set aside to read and discuss God’s word means 70-105 minutes of truth impressing a week! If a child is too young to sit, we let her color or play. We have provided notebooks for all of the kids to take notes or doodle if they like as well. 

Quiet Time: One of my favorite parts of the day is right after breakfast. We set the kitchen timer (usually around 20 minutes) and we are quiet. The big kids and I read from our Bibles and journal. Little ones scroll through Christian board books or paint or color. After finishing our quiet time, we often share what God taught us through His word. 

Scripture Memory: As a kid, I remember reading a portion of scripture out loud each week at church. We were given prizes when we memorized verses. In junior high we went through a serious study of scripture, memorizing large portions. Repetition of scripture has made a colossal difference in my life. We have put together a scripture memorization package for our family to cover. Doing this over the past three years has been a great encouragement. We set goals to complete different passages during different time frames. At the end, we celebrate with a fun prize.

Over the past six months, our kids have memorized; Matthew 7, Psalm 23, Isaiah 9:6-7, Isaiah 7:14, I Peter 2:19-25, Isaiah 53. They have earned fun gifts as a reward. We simply read the passage once every night during our devotion time. (When I had all pre-schoolers, I made a chart of small verses to memorize and the kids got candy when they said the verses to me each week. This time around, our 3 year old has heard the big kids reading this every night and she knows these huge chunks of scripture as well.)

In-depth study: Every week, we set aside one evening to cover a more in-depth study of God’s word. Over the past couple of years we have been working on, The Picture Smart Bible. Through this study we are giving our kids the “big picture” as to how scripture works together. It would be easy to let other activities take us away, so we strongly guard this time on our calendar.  

CSP (Coffee, Scripture, Prayer): My kids love coffee. They seriously, LOVE it. Some time ago, we decided to incorporate coffee with special family time. Every Saturday morning, we make a big pot and after breakfast dishes are done, we move into the family room with our Bibles and a big bin of toys for Cupcake. We take our time with our devotions, asking questions, laughing, praying, drinking coffee and enjoying one another and Jesus.  

Church attendance: We are thrilled to have found a church faithful to God’s word where we all learn from our pastor. All seven of us worship together every Sunday. We participate in corporate worship and our kids are part of the full life of the body of Christ. Our three youngest children have never gone to nursery and have sat next to me in the service. Helpful tip: When they were babies they would nurse and sleep all the way through the services. After that stage, I introduced dum-dums and ring pops. It doesn’t bother me in the least that every time Troy Dobbs gets up front, Cupcake looks at me and says, “Can I have a sucker now?” She can equate the teaching of God’s word with sweetness, as it is honey for our souls.

This pamphlet is not from our church (though I know from our pastor’s words that he welcomes children in our services). I love this sentiment and would love to see it true in every worship setting: 

presenting children mature in christ
Westminster Church

Seeds of Worship: One of the easiest ways to memorize scripture is through song. Seeds of worship are a wonderful tool for scripture memory. The songs are not the typical, “Is this CD almost over?” feeling for mom and dad. The melodies are catchy and fun. 

Handwriting: A Reason for Handwriting has been a beautiful tool to not only build a necessary life skill, but keeps scripture in front of our kids while learning it. 

We hope you are encouraged to take one area above and incorporate it into your home. Please let us know if you try something, or if you would like some help getting start. We would love to hear what other families are doing to be faithful in teaching your children scripture to present them fully mature in Christ.

He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. ~Colossians 1: 28

What to Do When Kids Tattle

What to Do When Kids Tattle
tattle
Source

Wherever two or more children are gathered, a tattle-tail will be among them.

Kids will be playing and getting along like gold. Just as you are ready to kick up your feet and relax, one of them comes running saying, “Sara took my truck!” or, “Cameron hit me in the face!”

What is your reaction when the child comes with the news of devastation? Here are some typical responses: “What is going on? Get over here Cameron! Why did you hit your brother?”
“Sara, did you take her truck? That isn’t yours, give it back!” or “Sara, you need to share with your sister. Let her have a turn with the truck and then you will get a turn later.”

When a kid tattles, are you quick to jump in and fix the situation? Do you take a more hands-off approach? Do you feel equipped in those situations? The following are the tips we have at swanniehouse in tattling situations.

  1. Calm yourself. Whenever a kid comes running to me with an offense, I literally stop myself from feeling irritated. My internal dialogue changed from, “I can’t believe I have to deal with this again,” to “This is an opportunity to help my child become a vessel of reconciliation. Some day he or she will be an employer, employee, roommate, or spouse. They can build skills in our home when they face problems with others.”
  2. Resist the urge to fix the situation. Recently, Odes tattled on Cupcake for stealing a card away from him while he was playing a card game. He wanted me to chase her down and get the card back. That would have been an easy way for me to deal with the problem and move on. This however, was my response, “I am sorry you are having this problem with Cupcake. What have you done so far to work on this?” He replied, “Nothing, because I know she will just run away.” I replied with kindness, “I don’t have a problem with Cupcake right now. It’s not my responsibility to leave what I am doing to fix this. If this is going to be solved, you are going to have to work on it. What can you do to start?” Guess what? They figured it out on their own. There are times when kids will need help…but when a tattler comes your way, remember the problems are theirs, not ours.
  3. Ask questions. “Wow, you seem really upset about this situation. Did you just need to talk about it or are you looking for some help? Oh, you want help? OK, what have you done so far?” If you spend any time in our home you will hear these kinds of questions coming from swannie mom and dad’s mouths frequently. Here are some others, “Is there anything you are responsible for in this situation? How can you talk to your friend/sister/brother about this problem? What can you do to bring peace to this situation?”
  4. Don’t choose sides. I have been guilty of this and I see it all the time with families. One kid comes running in tears to mom, either emotionally or physically hurt by a sibling or friend. Mom listens to the situation, feels it is her responsibility to play judge and jury, and doles out a consequence. This is usually an unrealistic picture of relational difficulty. How many times have you had a conflict where the other person was 100% guilty and you had no part? When we choose one child over another we are helping create victims and turn the heart of the possible offender away from mom or dad. A better response: While caring for the hurt child, resist the mama-bear urge to attack. Give the hurt child language to express themselves to the offender. “I’m so sorry you were hurt. I never want you to feel unsafe/unloved in this home. Do you need some help talking to your sister? OK. Can you tell me how are you feeling?” My children usually say “angry” and at that point I try to help them find another emotion that may be underneath the anger. “Sometimes, disrespect feels like anger. Could you be feeling disrespected? Alright, let’s try this, “Sister, I felt disrespected when you took my dress from me and told me it looks better on you. It hurt my feelings.” Do you see the difference? Instead of jumping in and fixing the problem with punishments or angry words, you are helping the wounded communicate. It is helpful to assist the other party in this process as well by helping them listen humbly and express their feelings as well.

These tips aren’t a formula to reduce tattling in your home. Hopefully, they will equip you when looking at situations in your own home to use these situations as tools for development in your children. Try applying one tip until it starts feeling natural, then add another layer to your parenting. The initial change may be in your responses only. Over time, you will see your children benefitting from the changes in your own heart.

Our homes are a safe place for children to practice relational skills they will need in order to mature into capable adults that can live out healthy relationships. As parents, our responses to our kid’s problems are a huge deciding factor in how they will relate to others when they interact with the world outside our walls. Be thoughtful, prayerful, and intentional.

And here is some hope: As my perspective has changed in this area, the tattling actually has reduced. Five kids at home all the time, it’s only realistic to expect some fighting and drama. But my kids are masters at working through their problems with minimal help from mom and dad.

tattle
Source

 

The Slow Work of God

One of my sons was practicing his piano lesson while I played Uno with some of the other kids. After some time had passed, the pianist was no longer practicing his lesson but was playing, “Another One Bites the Dust.” One of the Uno players looked at me and complained, “He’s counting that as lesson time you know!”

I smiled and looked thoughtfully at the justice seeking sibling. I asked my standard questions: “For whom are you responsible in this situation? Is your interference needed here?”

The child looked at me and said, “But did you even realize what he is doing?”

Kindly I replied, “I did. I notice more than you may realize.”

I quickly reflected on some of the ways that God has worked on my life. As a baby Christian, when He began cleaning up my tongue. When I grew in the Lord, He began moving me toward a heart of purity in different areas. Eventually, my relationships began to reflect those of one who followed Christ. He gave me a heart for those who were hurting or didn’t know Him. He has brought me through joy, pain, heartache, and loss. In each season of life has taught me more of His character, more of my need for Him.

Over the past 30 years of walking with God, He has been purifying areas of my life. Revealing hidden areas in my heart where I have not submitted fully to Him. He’s disciplined, pruned, and refined me. And I’m painfully aware that there is a lot of work left to do inside of me.

I looked at my sweet one seeking justice toward a brother who seemed to be squandering piano lesson time. “My love, I’m so thankful that God takes His time with me, not revealing all the areas in me that need to change at once. I sin often each day. If God scolded and disciplined me for every single thing, I would be completely overwhelmed. He knows what to work on at the right time. What you don’t understand, is your brother needs creative breaks between assignments. I know it seems “wrong” to you…but I’m asking you to trust me. And know that I want to give you the same kind of patience I’m offering your brother.”

Our kids need correction. We need wisdom to know when it is right to intervene. Sometimes it is OK to be aware of something and simply submit it to prayer or let it go. Sometimes our kids benefit from a window into our intentions as a parent. There is no end to the lessons we all need to learn.

“Be confident of this (with your children), that He who began a good work in you (them) will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” ~Phil 1:6

Give Him time friends. Our little ones have much to learn when in our homes, under our nurturing care and guidance. But they won’t learn it all.

Parenting with Authority, Like Jesus

How do we respond to sinful behavior in our children? At times children show defiance and disobedience. They talk disrespectfully, they display selfish hearts. When that happens, how does it make you feel? Anxious, confused, angry? I used to feel that way. I have learned to feel calm and equipped. Would you like to parent with confident authority, like Jesus?

When my oldest children were preschoolers, we had a morning play date with another mom. I distinctly remembered her strong, authoritative voice calling out to her son, “You obey!” Her presence was commanding enough that I was hoping that her son would fall in line. He did. He stopped misbehaving. I’m guessing a swift and strong punishment would have come had he not changed his actions. I’m left wondering however, did his heart change? I don’t know.

Authority is the power or right to give orders, make decisions, and enforce obedience.

Recently, I read a Facebook comment where a person was instructing a parent to use their scriptural authority to gain respect from their child. There wasn’t any follow up and left unexplained it led me to question how some might follow through on this encouragement. Should the mom use physical means to gain authority? Should she demand obedience as my friend did over a decade ago?

We certainly have authority as parents. We are in charge and responsible for our young children. Jesus has authority as God. Observing His authority over others is a wonderful tool to inform our own parenting.

In Mark 10:35-45, James and John discussion with Jesus exposes a self-centered arrogance in their hearts. The disciples asked to be seated on Jesus right and left side in glory. How can this look in our children’s responses to us?

I want the biggest piece. Let ME sit in the front. If I don’t win the game I’m going to throw a fit. Why should I have to clean up my mess? I don’t want to go bed! I don’t want to come home when you say!

As parents, it is easy to become exasperated. We just want our children to comply, to set aside their selfishness, and not make things so difficult. Let’s look closely at Christ’s response to James and John.

Mark 10:38 “You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said. “Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?”

Jesus didn’t respond with annoyance, anger, or a snappy, “Stop being so selfish!” Instead, he asked a simple question. His question opened their hearts to further conversation which eventually brought them to a place of further understanding and wisdom of His will in their lives. In fact, He touches on the subject of authority and how it should play out in the lives of those who know and follow Him. He turned the structure of authority upside down by showing the disciples that in order to be first in His Kingdom, one must give of themselves, becoming a servant to all. (Mark 10:42-45.)

One of my favorite quotes from Clay Clarkson’s wonderful book, Heartfelt Discipline says:

“Many Christian parents, myself included, tend to speak as though [their children] were Pharisees when addressing their children. We can speak harshly and with judgment, implying by our manner that we believe their hearts are hard and resistant. But this attitude is not justified by Scripture. There is no record of Jesus ever speaking to a child in a harsh tone. When the Gospels record Him speaking to a child, it is always with gentleness. Our children are not our adversaries. Though our children’s hearts are corrupted by sin, they are not hardened sinners who have made conscious choices to reject the Savior. Our children are simply immature and childish. That’s why children need the grace of love and compassion, not the legal harshness of shame and guilt.”

If Jesus exercises His authority over us with service and gentleness, why do we exercise our authority over little ones with harsh commands, refusing to understand the hearts of our children?

My three year old NEVER wants to go to bed. As her mother, I know that she needs an occasional nap and proper bed time so she can grow, stay healthy, and happy. When she fights my authority at bed time, I can respond with a heavy hand and say, “You obey and stay in that bed!” Or, I can respond with gentleness: “You don’t like going to bed, do you sweetie? You feel frustrated when it’s time to go to sleep, don’t you?” Typically, this kind of understanding will calm her enough for me to be able to move on with the following: “It’s hard to leave the fun! Let’s snuggle up with a book and sing some songs together.” After some snuggles and laying with her a bit, she is usually in a place where she will submit to sleep time. Upon waking up I will ask, “How did it feel to take the nap? Do you feel better, the same, or worse? Oh, I’m so glad you feel good! When it’s time for bed tomorrow, maybe you’ll remember how good it feels to be rested!”

This line of questioning may seem “pie-in-the-sky, soft.” I do believe however, I’m exercising my scriptural authority as a parent when I work with her to build wisdom in this way. It takes a little more thought than a simple command of, “You obey!” My child is worth the extra thought to keep a connection to her heart.

 

The Weird Way Homeschoolers Socialize

The Weird Way Homeschoolers Socialize

homeschool socialization

Over the years we’ve had a lot of questions as to how our homeschooled kids will be properly socialized. There are plenty of articles arguing the benefits for and against being in a room full of kids your own age and the effects that has on a child’s socialization. Homeschool kids are not around their peers all day. However, the socialization they receive can be priceless.

I took my kids out for breakfast. We sat eating our pancakes and drinking our coffee, when an exuberant man, in his sixties, walked in to the restaurant with a huge birthday cake hat. We saw him smiling at us and we wished him a happy birthday. I kept waiting to see his buddies that must be meeting him to celebrate his big day. The man was smiling at all of the children in the restaurant, sweetly holding the hands of waitresses as they passed by and I soon realized that there would be no one joining him at his table.

A woman and her three small children walked past the man. Stopping them, he did a couple of hand tricks for the kids, bringing joyful squeals. He blessed the mom with, “You have lovely children” as she walked away.

The man approached our table and congratulated me on having such a beautiful family and homeschooling them. He knelt down and asked if he could tell us his story. Removing the attention grabbing hat, he told us he wore it (or other hats like it) to disguise the scars on his head where he had surgery on three brain aneurysms which had popped 31 year ago.

He told his miraculous story of courage, and hope and healing

He was a young man when he suffered the aneurysms and he had just quit his job to move across country and start a new life. With no life insurance, a wife and two young children, they accrued almost one million dollars in medical bills. Half of his body was paralyzed and his mental capacity was that of a 7 year old. The doctors who helped bring restoration to this man told him that it wasn’t their hands, but a miracle from God.

As this sweet brother shared his story, tears were flowing out of my eyes and he said, “Don’t do it! Don’t cry, now I’m going to cry! And I can’t cry. My life has been spared and now I need to fulfill my destiny of bringing joy into the lives of others.” It was difficult not to cry. Thirty-one years had passed and he was still grateful for his second chance at life. Back at his table now, he blessed everyone who walked by with a smile, greeting, joke, or little trick.

I wanted to pay his bill, but another guest from across the restaurant had already offered. Instead of leaving the restaurant we asked the birthday man if we could sit with him while he ate. He was so excited and asked if our little Cupcake could sit on his lap. She did and he goofed with the kids for several minutes. I shared with him my own story of miraculous healing 20 years ago and this time he began to cry as he said, “Ah! You know! You know first hand the power of the healing of the Lord! You must know Jesus!” We joyfully told him we did and he shared how God has given him tools to help with the effects of his injuries.

Wrapping up our conversation, he tearfully told me that because of short-term memory loss he would not remember us when we left. He wanted us to know how much joy we brought to his life and how he hoped he had brought blessing to us. He stood up to kiss me on the cheek after telling me his injuries at times make him socially unaware. We talked a bit about the power and love of God and how we don’t always understand his ways. He confessed it wasn’t really his birthday, but that EVERY day was his birthday, as each day for the past 31 years has been an incredible gift.

My children and I circled this amazing man and we spoke a blessing over him and he hugged us and he spoke his own special blessings over each of my children. We got home more than an hour later than I had hoped. It didn’t matter. My kids were socialized in the weird way homeschoolers socialize. And it was beautiful.